Jimmy Kimmel with wife Molly McNearney, daughter and new son Billy. Photo via ABC
Jimmy Kimmel with wife Molly McNearney, daughter and new son Billy. Photo via ABC

The House voted Thursday to repeal Obamacare, but the debate continues on at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where the sickly newborn son of late-night TV star Jimmy Kimmel was treated.

The late-night comic made a tearful appeal to retain Obamacare, which is officially called the Affordable Care Act. Kimmel cited the open-heart surgery on his son Billy three days after birth.

But ACA critics argue that Billy would have received care from Children’s Hospital no matter what — because the L.A. hospital is a nonprofit charity.

“Private charities like CHLA have proven to be more effective at providing healthcare to the needy than government-run schemes like Obamacare,” says a widely shared post on the Daily Wire. “What happened with Kimmel’s baby is illustrative of that rather than a case in favor of Obamacare.

But Children’s Hospital CEO and president Paul Viviano told ABC News: “Without the help of private donors and government-backed health care like the Affordable Care Act, coverage for these less-fortunate children without private health care is at risk.”

“Today there are safeguards in place,” he said, adding that health care coverage can prevent parents from having to “make decisions that are difficult and uncomfortable” about what they can afford when it comes to treating their children.”

Billy Kimmmel has a “very extensive path that they are on to have this series of surgeries that he will receive, and if he didn’t have private insurance coverage, he would likely reach a limit on lifetime cap [of coverage],” ABC News quoted the exec as saying.

After Thursday’s House vote, Viviano told City News Service that Kimmel “has had a tremendous impact in raising awareness about a very critical issue at a critical time in our country,” and, “we agree with Mr. Kimmel that every child should have access to the pediatric medical care they need.”

CHLA saw a spike in calls from potential donors following Kimmel’s emotional Monday night monologue, during which he fought back tears while describing the birth of his son, Billy, and the emergency surgery the boy underwent three days later to repair a heart defect.

At the end of his monologue on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Kimmel made an emotional plea to Congress, saying that eliminating insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions will endanger lives.

“Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease, like  my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition,” Kimmel said. “And if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not even live long (enough) to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition.”

Viviano thanked Kimmel for his remarks on the issue of children’s health.

“His powerful statements highlight the importance of considering the impact on children of any proposed health legislation, including changes that could devastate access to care for children with pre-existing conditions, like his newborn son, and the importance of continued medical and research funding,” Viviano said.

“The need for sustained National Institutes of Health funding is vital to pediatric care because lifesaving techniques and therapies like those that helped Billy Kimmel are developed through federally funded research studies,” he said. “A strong NIH is needed to continue the vital work of creating new pediatric treatments for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other medical conditions in children.”

In any case, the Kimmel monologue has brought the hospital “hundreds of calls” from people looking to help or just looking for more information.

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